Retailers including Wal-Mart, Amazon, and Sears have reached a $300K compromise with New York regulators who say that the outlets’ sales of toy guns violate state law.

Federal law requires that toy guns display an orange strip to indicate non functionality, but New York law goes further by banning the sale of black, blue, silver, or aluminum imitation guns. (New York City goes even further—your mock glock needs to be transparent or brightly colored in the Big Apple.) Officials also hit a total of 67 online third-party sellers with cease-and-desist letters in an attempt to prevent indirect sales from slipping across state lines.

For their part, the New York AG’s office is sticking to their guns (I’m so, so sorry) over the controversial crackdown; officials claim that their regulations work to keep citizens safe from mix-ups with law enforcement:

“There have been instances in states around the country in which police officers have mistaken toy guns for actual guns,” Eric T. Schneiderman, the attorney general, said in an interview. “It’s an absolutely unnecessary risk, because toy guns, as New York law requires, can be easily distinguishable.”

Business Briefing: New York Warns Retailers on Realistic Toy GunsDEC. 18, 2014
Momentum has grown to restrict toy guns over the past year, set off in part by the death of Tamir Rice, a 12-year-old boy who was playing with a toy gun when he was shot by a police officer in Cleveland in November. In 2015, lawmakers in Florida, Indiana, Massachusetts, Nebraska, New York, Ohio and Washington introduced legislation to create or amend toy gun laws, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. Half a dozen states, as well as Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., already have laws on the books, according to the organization.

Mr. Schneiderman’s office said the enforcement actions have two goals: cut down on crimes that involve toy guns, like robberies, and help prevent split-second mistakes by the police that can end in death. Since 1994, there have been at least 63 shootings in New York State because of toy or imitation guns, according to the attorney general’s office, at least eight of them ending in fatalities.

Their argument, for what it’s worth, goes over well in the media. After 12 year-old Tamir Rice was shot and killed during an encounter with police involving a toy pistol, activists rallied in favor of restrictions similar to the ones governing sales in New York.

For the most part, retailers appear to have relented in this battle. It’s better to take a small monetary hit than wage a corporate battle against the rabid talking point machine that is the liberal anti-gun lobby; but keep in mind that these regulations, and others like them, are still part of a broader legislative movement meant to demonize, regulate, and eventually restrict gun ownership in America.


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